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It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere […]

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What makes a character “click”?
comment 9 Written by on May 10, 2010 – 10:00 am

We were talking last night in one of the general chatter channels about characters and how it is that we end up “sticking” with them. One of the newer members of our group mentioned that he wasn’t really sure what we meant – rolling a character was mostly (for him) about the race/class combination.

It’s different for me – as I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’ve been reading here very long.

Annata is not the first rogue I’ve rolled. She’s not even the first /human/ rogue I’ve rolled. But she’s the first one that I’ve managed to connect with on a character level. (The other four are long since deleted)

Awhile back, Shad, a fellow RPer from the general Riders Conglomerate, wrote a really excellent guest post for me on Character Cookies.

(You should go read it, I’ll wait!)

For me, rolling a new character always involves a “cookie” concept. It’s the “what would happen” question that always initiates a new character. What would happen to a hunter who really had always wanted to be a druid? What would happen to a Dwarven rogue who’d raised all her brothers after her mom died? What would happen to a Gnome who grew up in Westfall and loved horses?

The “cookie” question is what gets a character into the game – but it’s not what gives them staying power, at least for me. Very rarely can I play a character for more than 15-20 levels without having a decent RP concept for them. (Two notable exceptions: Aely, who didn’t get her personality until she was around level 75, and Annylais, who is level 70 and only just now got her RP concept.) I simply get bored or disinterested in who they are, and so I stall out, stop leveling, and never get them anywhere. A few months later, in a fit of new-character-startitis, they get deleted.

It’s a cycle that I’ve repeated many times. The Dwarven rogue who raised her brothers turned out to be a boring, moralizing busybody and was, ultimately, so mind bendingly uninteresting to RP that she never really made it past 25, and that’s after I’d spent quite a lot of gold on her Engineering skills. This is a sad failure on my part, as I’ve always wanted to play a Dwarf consistently. Right now my hope lies with Anrietta, an older Dwarven lady and hunter, but I’ve not had a lot of inspiration with her either. She’s unlikely to get deleted, as she functions outside of my own character RP story things (she’s also part of the TRI raid banking conglomerate), but I hardly play her.

Maybe someday, right?

Anyhow – I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is that makes a character “click” for me.

It’s obviously some combination of Race/Class, but it’s also personality and history and story, who they are and how they react, little quirks, and all the oddities that show up during RP. I found out the other day that Annata spends a small amount of gold every week on manicures, but would never paint her nails. Those little details are what keep me coming back to a character, and what eventually will save them from the scrap heap.

What is it for you? Do you roll with just a Race/Class combo, or even just a specific Class? Or do you, like me, need there to be “more” to the Character?


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9 Responses to “What makes a character “click”?”

  1. I’m one of those that needs more in a character than just race/class. I couldn’t count how many alts I’ve deleted just because they don’t “click” (example- priests, I tried 4 times to play one and never got higher than 21. Then I made Quae, who has a pretty strong personality. She’s now 71 and in line to be my next 80 after Lark and Shaurria).

    Lark was one of those where I had a character concept in my head before creating her, and I’m still learning more about her. She clicked right off the bat, and has been a TON of fun to play. The same thing goes for Arvoss. Shaurria, on the other hand, I just made and started playing, and her character and backstory came out later.

    Hmm, maybe I should make my own blog post about this. I have too many alts. >.>

  2. This is why I’m worried about transferring my paladin back to Feathermoon/alliance. First, I’m growing to love Wyrmrest Accord. But beyond that, this is the first time I’ve succeeded in sticking with a paladin character long-term in ANY game, ever. Blood knights have everything that gets me- interesting cultural context, just enough selfish, just enough right for the wrong reasons, just enough arrogance without always justifying their mistakes and personal desires in the name of Good (because, honestly, that’s really farking irritating and why I generally dislike the way 90% of paladins are portrayed).

    I have no idea what happens to that when he turns into a draenei. I’m actually working on RPing the transition in some way (shaman hex…?) so that I don’t entirely lose the character and the things I love about him.

    By Lilivati on May 10, 2010 | Reply
  3. Taps on their boots. Makes them click when then walk. Except Iriandra. She has hooves.

    But seriously, folks…

    Several of my characters are very old concepts that I’ve been playing for years and have just shoe-horned into the WoW universe. I like them, they are familiar to me and they work (and I still wish I had rolled on an RP server.) To that end, I think not being on an RP server is part of what made Mordock and Lotos less interesting for me to play than Khol and Iriandra.

    See, Mordock and Lotos are two of my oldest concepts that have gone from pencil and paper games, to RP chatrooms and finally to WoW. I’ve gotten a LOT of miles out of them, but the things that made them interesting to me (beyond their classes, anyway) were the things that either didn’t translate well or just don’t come up on a non-RP server.

    Enter Khol, a swashbuckling sort of guy with smart mouth and a fast sword. If there were level 80 rapiers, Khol would be rocking a pair Florentine-style. Or sword and dagger, perhaps. But I digress. Khol was created entirely within the WoW universe. His backstory was woven out of the threads of lore, while Mordock and Lotos had to be tweaked and adjusted to fit the setting. It’s the difference between having a suit tailored to fit you and having one altered to fit. Same deal with Iriandra, though I didn’t come to her story until she was already level 80. Largely, that was because I’m not on an RP server and had rolled her to take a break from my other characters. She was an experiment more than anything. Once her role became defined, her story just poofed into being, although I had to retcon the whole 60 levels I did as disc instead of shadow.

    As for what makes these two click for me…in some ways they are different aspects of my own personality, enhanced and made into a more central trait, which allows me to explore some parts of me that don’t necessarily see the light of day very often. In other ways, I like the stories they have to tell, which is the more important quality, really. Hell, I like Khol’s stories enough to have been writing a blog about him for over a year now. I’m playing with the idea of giving Iri one, too. Not that it would get updated nearly as often as Khol’s, but still…it’s a thought. Lastly, Khol and Iri are people I think I would like to know in real life, if that were possible, and I think that is probably the factor that makes most characters click with their players. Anna’s aborted dwarf rogue was a boring, moralising busybody, which isn’t really the kind of person most people want to get to know more about.

    So really, our characters are, to a large extent, our imaginary friends.

  4. Oddly enough, the toon I have who came with the least backstory was Rashona, who’s been my main ever since I started. All I knew about her at character generation was that she was devoted to the Earthmother and very, very hard to rattle; everything else has evolved.

    As a rule, though I *have* to have an idea for a character before I can roll it. Sometimes it won’t leave me alone until I DO roll it…I have a blood elf warlock I’m very fond of because I was noodling around chatting with a friend, had an idea hit me, and promptly said “holy CRAP!” and logged off to roll the warlock. (She got left for dead during Arthas’ invasion of Silvermoon, and clawed her way out from under a pile of bodies to find her people demonically tainted and hanging out with talking corpses. *Obviously* she died in the fighting and is now in Hell, and all the people with glowing green eyes are demons trying to deceive her…so she became a warlock in self-defense. Will of titanium, grasp-on-reality of a wet noodle.)

  5. Some races just draw me in or push me away no matter what. Draenei and Elves almost always click; Forsaken, Gnomes, and Orcs just never do… either I just can’t get a feel for how to RP them or I have too much respect for the lore to do a bad job at it. Same with the non-click classes: my warlock bank alt got to 30 through gritted teeth just for the mount and the Gadgetzan flight point and I hated every level from 20-30. Priests have never gotten above L15 if they even make that milestone.

    My real click often comes during the mid 20s. By then I know what I want with the character in terms of game mechanics, and I often have a pretty good idea about a backstory. Sometimes the basis of a character is known before the “enter world” button, but they also tend not to hit the “click” at L20. The future worgen may be the only exception, since she will be an alliance side reroll of a character who would grasp the worgen curse with both hands because of the advantages it may give her and her own personality that perfectly fits the wolf-ness.

    It’s often the little stuff that makes that click, the little habits and quirks. Often they just appear during gameplay. Tsani the huntress didn’t fall in love with Azeroth’s cats until she saw the black panthers in STV. She didn’t even realise she tends to pick dark skinned animal companions until her 30s when a friend jokingly mentioned her and her panther were “perfectly colour coordinated”. Khyrra the druid always loved animals, but didn’t realise she spends most of her time in cat form until she started hanging out with humans. Tsani would prefer never to pick up a gun (she has been forced once by her adventuring group because it was a huge upgrade at the time and she dropped it like a hot coal within a week for a sidegrade crossbow), but Niandre the Paladin so loves engineering that she would pay anything for a little gun training (but even the Goblins aren’t THAT crazy, since she can’t hit the broad side of a wall).

    By Tsani on May 11, 2010 | Reply
  6. My background pretty much matches Aggrokitty’s to a T. I actually rolled Shad (Haemon at the time) not intending to RP–I just wanted to play a druid. My husband chose the realm, hoping for more mature players. But it wasn’t long before I started working him into something–everything about him has evolved, and in some cases, been retconned. Sure, there’s a lot of it that I’m not proud of, but I like the way he’s so much a product of my ingame experience. So for him, it’s the race/class combo that got me.

    Shael, on the other hand, was an idea. I wanted a gruff priest-who-used-to-be-a-warrior. He told me as I rolled him that he was part dwarf, and I found out a few days in that he was unsuccessfully trying to hide both the accent he developed growing up in Ironforge, and the drinking problem he developed after he shot his fiancee. “You did what, Shael?” I asked. “It ain’ tha’ simple, lemme ‘xplain ‘ere…” I wasn’t extremely into playing a priest for a good while, but the way he walked into my head, rapidly forming around that cookie, made him an instant hit with me. And, much to my surprise, with complete strangers 20 levels later.

    In summary, what makes a character click with me varies. But in the end, they don’t survive if they don’t take responsibility for themselves in my head. Slackers get laid off. Can’t afford them in this economy.

    By Shad on May 11, 2010 | Reply
  7. I have to have a hook in order to stick with a character long enough to find out who she is. I’ve deleted TONS of characters in class/race combos that I really like to play. I have two level 80 dwarf paladins, but I’ve never been able to manage a human paladin past about level 35, despite trying several times. My hunter bores me to tears — no personality — but her BEAR is so interesting that I cannot bring myself to delete her entirely. I shoved her off on my inactive holding account in case she ever develops a personality to match her pet’s.

    Sometimes they surprise me. All my successful characters have healing spells except one. As a practical joke on our raid leader, a few months ago, the entire guild rolled new warlocks and were logged on them when he logged on for the raid. I intended to delete her as soon as the joke was over, but she immediately burst into life in my head — with a story and a personality and absolutely no intention of being deleted. So I’m struggling with keeping her alive without a healing spell as I level her, but I adore who she’s turning out to be. Complicated, comic relief, and just plain fascinating to play.

  8. I’ve found my characters a few different ways. Started off with a class that I wanted to play and then developed the personality from there (druid), started off a class that was complimentary to something a friend was leveling for class and an RP storyline (Kyraine), started off as one of my own NPCs (paladin and mage), and also started a race/class combo that seemed like it would have a lot of stories to tell. The last tends to apply to all of them, I suppose. I fail completely at priests, mostly because I can’t get the right race/class combo to really take off, and I’ve tried a few priests.

    I find when a character clicks for me the most often is when I’ve played them long enough in game to get a sense for what they’re saying. It might sound weird to think of it that way, but in some sense they ‘talk’ and that’s when they really take off. I went through three mages and two paladins before I finally got the pair that I plan on leveling (the mage, at least, the paladin wound up being my second 80 after Azaar). The ones that got deleted just never clicked, never talked, and had no real interest to keep me playing them.

    So I really think it’s about listening to the characters. Sometimes you have to expriment and use the delete hammer on a few before you find one that really speaks to you. I have alt itis, and it’s very interesting seeing how the personalities come out for all of the ones that are rattling around in my brain.

    By Kyraine on May 15, 2010 | Reply
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